The Evolution of Horses

In Our Time | 27 February 2020 | 0h 50m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the evolution of horses, from their dog-sized ancestors to their proliferation in the New World until hunted to extinction, their domestication in Asia and their development since.

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

In Our Time | 13 February 2020 | 0h 51m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great Roman military disaster of 9 AD when Germanic tribes under Arminius ambushed and destroyed three legions under Varus. The defeat ended Roman expansion east of the Rhine. Victory changed the development of the Germanic peoples, both in the centuries that followed and in the nineteenth century when Arminius, by then known as Herman, became a rallying point for German nationalism.

Japan’s Sakoku Period

In Our Time | 4 April 2013 | 0h 42m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Japan’s Sakoku period, two centuries when the country deliberately isolated itself from the Western world. Sakoku began with a series of edicts in the 1630s which restricted the rights of Japanese to leave their country and expelled most of the Europeans living there. For the next two hundred years, Dutch traders were the only Westerners free to live in Japan. It was not until 1858 and the gunboat diplomacy of the American Commodore Matthew Perry that Japan’s international isolation finally ended. Although historians used to think of Japan as completely isolated from external influence during this period, recent scholarship suggests that Japanese society was far less isolated from European ideas during this period than previously thought.

The Siege of Paris 1870–71

In Our Time | 16 January 2020 | 0h 52m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian war and the social unrest that followed, as the French capital was cut off from the rest of the country and food was scarce. When the French government surrendered Paris to the Prussians, power gravitated to the National Guard in the city and to radical socialists, and a Commune established in March 1871 with the red flag replacing the trilcoleur. The French government sent in the army and, after bloody fighting, the Communards were defeated by the end of May 1871.

Coffee

In Our Time | 12 December 2019 | 0h 55m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history and social impact of coffee. Covers its origins in Ethiopia, spread through the Ottoman Empire, introduction to European coffee houses, spread with colonial trade, and its modern economy.

Malthusianism

In Our Time | 22 June 2011 | 0h 42m | Listen Later
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Malthusianism. Thomas Malthus argued that with population increasing exponentially, that food production could not keep pace – eventually a crisis would ensue. He suggested that famine, disease and wars acted as a natural corrective to overpopulation, and also suggested a number of ways in which humans could regulate their own numbers. The work caused a furore and fuelled debate about the size and sustainability of the human population ever since.

Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow

In Our Time | 19 September 2019 | 0h 54m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, in September 1812, Napoleon captured Moscow and waited a month for the Russians to meet him, to surrender and why, to his dismay, no-one came. Soon his triumph was revealed as a great defeat; winter was coming, supplies were low; he ordered his Grande Armée of six hundred thousand to retreat and, by the time he crossed back over the border, desertion, disease, capture, Cossacks and cold had reduced that to twenty thousand. Napoleon had shown his weakness; his Prussian allies changed sides and, within eighteen months they, the Russians and Austrians had captured Paris and the Emperor was exiled to Elba.

The Inca

In Our Time | 13 June 2019 | 0h 52m | Listen Later | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how the people of Cusco, in modern Peru, established an empire along the Andes down to the Pacific under their supreme leader Pachacuti. Before him, their control grew slowly from C13th and was at its peak after him when Pizarro arrived with his Conquistadors and captured their empire for Spain in 1533.